Agriculture


World Heritage no. 69: Agricultural landscapes
UNESCO World Heritage Centre, October 2013

Agricultural landscapes are a testimony to humanity’s long interaction with the land, often unique examples of people and nature co-existing and influencing each other. They demonstrate a rich cultural and landscape diversity, sustainable land-use systems and in some cases people’s daily struggle for survival under extreme climatic and environmental conditions. The 19th-century coffee plantations in Cuba; Stari Grad Plain in Croatia, where grapes and olives have been harvested since ancient Greek times; Konso Cultural Landscape in Ethiopia, where fortified settlements embody a living cultural tradition stretching back twenty-one generations and adapted to a harsh environment; and the subak water management system in Bali (Indonesia), where the spiritual, human and natural worlds are brought together in a philosophy that has shaped the landscape while ensuring prolific rice production – all of these are exceptional examples of an enduring and harmonious interaction. The issue also presents the new World Heritage sites inscribed during the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, Phnom Penh (Cambodia) in June 2013. Read the issue …

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Healthy eating: nutritious indigenous foods you may never have heard of
The Guardian, 23 December 2013

LONDON, UK: The proliferation of the western diet, which is high in refined sugars, fats, processed grains and meat, has been blamed for a rise in global obesity and diet-related illnesses. As awareness of healthy eating has grown in the west, sales of once obscure grains such as quinoa have skyrocketed. Amid growing concern that unhealthy eating habits are crowding out healthier traditional crops, Food Tank: The Food Thinktank has compiled a list of indigenous fruits and vegetables that should be championed, including amaranth, cowpea, pamir mulberry and bunya nut. Read the article …

Pollination and Land Degradation: Top Priorities for New Intergovernmental Body
IPBES Press Release, 14 December 2013

ANTALYA, TURKEY: The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), held from 9-14 December 2013, in Antalya, Turkey, concluded with the adoption of the Antalya Consensus, a set of decisions detailing: the Platform’s work programme, for 2014-2018, including fast track, thematic, regional and sub-regional assessments and activities for building capacities; a conceptual framework that considers different knowledge systems; and rules and procedures for the Platform on, inter alia, the nomination of future Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) members and procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables, and relationship with the UN. The meeting agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species meant to support the science behind policy making. It also established a task force on indigenous and local knowledge systems led by the MEP in consultation with the Bureau, and adopted its terms of reference; and requested the MEP and the Bureau to develop draft procedures for and approaches to working with indigenous and local knowledge systems, and to establish in 2014 a roster and network of experts and a participatory mechanism for working with various knowledge systems. Read the IPBES press release … Read the IISD RS daily and summary reports of the meeting …

BSF Projects – Progress Update
ITPGR release, December 2013

ROME, ITALY: The 19 projects sponsored by the second round of the Benefit-Sharing Fund of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) are currently in implementation in 31 countries across Asia, Africa, the Near East, and Central and South America. The projects place particular importance on farmers’ traditional knowledge, their socio-cultural systems and institutions, and the role of local communities in securing access to agricultural biodiversity. Farmers are involved in the collection, characterization, evaluation and development of new varieties in crops like rice, maize, potato, wheat and barley, as well as in the compilation of information on existing crop diversity. These activities are also consistent with national strategies and priorities. The Treaty’s BSF projects also emphasize the importance of gender differentiated traditional knowledge and the adoption of gender-equitable approaches. To help secure local seed systems and facilitate sharing of information on seed development, the projects have set up Seed Clubs. Similarly, biodiversity fairs and farmer exchange visits have been taking place in Bhutan, Guatemala, India, Jordan, Iran, Morocco, Tunisia and Peru, thus providing excellent opportunities for exchanging knowledge, building on established good practices and giving farmers the opportunity to showcase seed collections representative of their selection and conservation practices. Read the update …

Following tradition: Top examples of indigenous knowledge preserving biodiversity, ecosystem services
Phys.org, 9 December 2013

ANTALYA, TURKEY: With the planet losing species 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, international experts assembling for high-level global biodiversity meetings say knowledge co-production with indigenous peoples has growing importance. Building synergies between science and traditional knowledge forms one focus of delegates meeting in Antalya, Turkey, from 9-14 December, charged with determining a conceptual framework and initial work program for the UN’s new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Available from almost every world region, lessons for ecosystem and natural resource management in indigenous and local knowledge include: the rice-fish co-culture, a farming technique for over 1,200 years in south China, which was recently designated a “globally-important agricultural heritage system” by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; indigenous fire management techniques developed thousands of years ago, used to protect large landscapes in Australia, Indonesia, Japan and Venezuela; animal herd management in the Arctic, where remote satellite sensing, meteorology and modelling are complemented with the indigenous knowledge of Sami and Nenets reindeer herders to co-produce datasets; rotational farming, traditional cropping strategies and access to seeds, which have proved essential for adaptation and survival; sophisticated rainwater harvesting techniques; and sustainable management of marine resources, as practiced by many Pacific island communities, which traditionally involves the use of area and time-based restrictions to facilitate marine resource recovery. Read the release … Read a related article on Reuters … Follow the IISD Reporting Services coverage of IPBES-2 …

Slow Food and FAO launch “Quinoa in the Kitchen”
FAO release, 3 December 2013

ROME, ITALY: The Slow Food movement and FAO officially launched the book, “Quinoa in the Kitchen,” to continue to promote awareness about the super-food’s potential, as the International Year of Quinoa 2013 draws to a close. The book gives an overview of quinoa’s roots in the history and culture of the central Andean high plateau, geographically extending across the borders of Peru and Bolivia, which together account for the vast majority of quinoa production in the world. Since quinoa is still new to many beyond the Andes, the book includes a selection of quinoa recipes created by some of the world’s top chefs. Read the release … Download the book [pdf] …

Documenting traditional foodways of Kenya
Bioversity International release, 26 November 2013

NAIROBI, KENYA: A Bioversity International initiative sought to document traditional foodways in two contrasting communities in Kenya – Isukha and East Pokot, one agricultural, one pastoral. Foodways are where food, culture and tradition intersect. The partners of the initiative aims not only to better understand and preserve the unique food cultures of these communities, but also to recognize their valuable skills, practices and the agricultural biodiversity that the communities use and conserve in their landscapes. The result: four publications filled with photos and information collected by schoolchildren who were given and trained to use digital cameras; edited and put together with the help of school teachers, community leaders and researchers involved in the project. The first two books describe the way food is grown, collected, prepared and eaten in the Isukha and East Pokot communities, including the cultural aspects associated with them. The third, presents a collection of photographs taken by primary school children from the two communities. Finally, the Practical Guide provides useful information for those who might want to replicate this methodology elsewhere, be it for foodways or other indigenous knowledge and practices. Read the release, including links to the four publications …

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